Tips on shopping for The One…

… and we don’t mean the Groom!

In our experience, the moment the engagement ring is on the finger, the first thing the Bride thinks about is ‘The Dress’.  Face it, most of us have been thinking about it since the age of about 4!  Back in those days, mums net curtain and your ballet school tutu was as sophisticated as it got.  Fast forward 20 or 30 years and your style and ideas will (hopefully) have changed dramatically.  An old bit of lace and some tulle just won’t do anymore.


In this day and age, Brides to Be are bombarded with images of wedding gowns from all directions; magazines, the internet, Facebook, wedding shows – local and national to mention but a few.  In addition, the dresses are all shown on tall, slender and stunningly gorgeous models (all airbrushed obviously) and bear little resemblance to the sight most of us see in the mirror every morning (or is that just me?)  No wonder Brides often come into our shop looking dazed & confused and clutching a printout of a dress they’ve spotted online or a page torn out of a magazine. There’s so much of the white stuff (satin, tafetta, chiffon, tulle etc) out there, it’s almost snow blindness!


How do you choose the perfect dress?

We’ve always believed that The Dress will find you, rather than you finding her. The vast majority of girls who come into the shop looking for a particular style or design, leave with something completely different. You simply won’t know what suits you until you try. Lots of the gowns don’t look anything special on the rail, but once you put the girl and the dress together, they both transform into something stunning. One of the most uninspiring dresses we’ve ever hung on our rails turned into a stunner of Hollywood glamour proportions once the right body shape was inside it.


Yes, there are certain rules about what styles will suit what shape of body and a good Bridal Consultant should be able to advise you on what will suit your shape best. Listen to their advice, this is their area of expertise.  If you book an appointment for a Saturday with us there will be a team of staff with over 21 years of experience in dressing brides just waiting to help you! When you walk down the  aisle you are a walking advertisment for us – so we have a vested interest in sending you out looking 110% perfect and a lot of Brides do choose a style that we have recommended.  We know our stock, we’ve worked with it, tried it on ourselves, watched it move on the catwalk and seen how it drapes over different body shapes & the lumps and bumps that we’ve all got. We’ve played around with it, adding sleeves, halter-necks, shawl collars, straps & accessories.


So be open minded, try on that slinky fishtail (even if you hate it on the rail) or the big fluffy, crystal encrusted meringue – you never know – you could be a perfect match for each other!


When should you order your gown?

Most designers will require a minimum of 4 to 6 months for delivery from the point of ordering to the dress arriving in-store.  Time will also be needed for fittings and alterations once the gown arrives, and your diary will become more and more  full as the big day approaches, so make sure you order your dress in plenty of time.  There is always the option of  purchasing your gown directly ‘off the peg’, but this will limit your options.

We’re used to Brides & B’maids changing shape in the run up to the wedding through diets and exercise.  We can work with you to determine how much you want to change and thus what size dress needs ordering.  Do take the advice of your Bridal Consultant – we deal with this situation every week!


The Appointment

We like to give each Bride the time and attention that she deserves when choosing her gown.  Whilst we never like turning anyone away, and will always try to help girls who walk in without an appointment, it’s always best to have a time and date in the diary.

It’s a good idea to pop on a strapless bra and possibly a pair of well constructed knickers, to help give you the best possible shape under the gown.   Also bear in mind that you won’t be able to get into the wedding gowns on your own and will be helped by a Bridal Consultant – do you really want her to see you in your skimpiest leopard skin thong?

If you do book an appointment, and find that you don’t need it – do phone the shop to cancel.  After all, it’s only polite and you could be taking a slot that another Bride could use.


What additional costs do I need to budget for?

Do keep in mind that apart from the cost of your wedding dress you will almost definitely need to think about alterations.  Some shops will build the alteration costs into the cost of the gown, and others prefer to keep these charges separate so that you only pay for what you need.   Accessories will also need to be budgeted for – tiaras, veils, lingerie, shoes & jewellery all need to be taken into consideration.


We all come in different shapes and sizes and so do wedding gowns.  Many designers will design collections that go up to a size 36, and more and more shops, us included, are carrying plus-size gowns as the norm, although it is often worth checking with the individual shop, when you call to make your appointment.

A little word about sizing – wedding gowns do tend to come up smaller than other clothing unfortunately, and you may find yourself looking at gowns in sizes larger than you would if you were shopping on the high street. 

 Everyone has an opinion!

Wedding Gown shopping should be a treat, not a trial.  Take along someone whose opinion you value, be it mum, sister or a good friend and a good Bridal Consultant should also give you a fair and honest opinion.  Taking too many people can often mean too many opinions and this can lead to confusion as you’ll end up trying to please too many people – all with different ideas on how they think you should look!

Ultimately, however, it’s your day and your dress, so don’t let people hoist their opinions on to you!  Accept their advice, but remember, you’re the one that’s going to wear it on the day and look back on the photos for the rest of your life – so make sure in those photo’s you’re wearing a dress that you love, not the one that your friend thought you should have!


Don’t forget to visit The Bridal Gallery on Stand D5 at The National Wedding Show in Birmingham.